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Israeli Apartheid | Introduction

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Pre-req  Introduction | Part I | Part 2 | Part 3 |  Part 4

The Israeli propaganda machine is in full swing this time of the year. Israel’s image as the ‘only liberal democracy in the Middle East’ continues to be tarnished as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) and BDS (Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions) grow as a grass roots movements on campuses across the globe. Israel’s positive image in the North American psyche is the one thing which has allowed it to continue its brutality against the Palestinians without any backlash from the general public. The fact that its image is slowly undergoing a seismic shift shakes Israel to the core.

Israel’s nervousness and isolation is best indicated by the attempts to counter this movement. It has organized massive public relation campaigns, initiated events such as Israel Peace Week and has sent out delegations on speaking tours all over the world. Condemnation of IAW pour in from right-wing politicians and media outlets continue to brand the event as a hate fest which is rooted in misinformation and anti-Semitism.

All this comes at a time when informed commentators agree that Israel implements a system of apartheid. A recent report by the United Nations concluded that Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories ‘exhibit features of colonialism and apartheid’. B’Tasleem, Israel’s leading human rights organization, published in its report Land Grab that Israel ‘has created a system of legally sanctioned separation based on discrimination that has, perhaps, no parallel any where in the world since the apartheid regime of South Africa’. The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa also concluded in its legal study that Israel is guilty of apartheid crimes.

Why use apartheid?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a multi-faceted one. At the core of it lies an illegal occupation coupled with innumerable human rights violations, war crimes, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, colonialism and apartheid. Solidarity activists of the past largely focused their struggle around ending the occupation, human rights violations and state-sponsored terrorism.

Focusing on the apartheid nature of the occupation represents a newer strategy in the movement, and perhaps the most effective one to date. This is a dimension of the conflict which was ignored largely in the past; partially because it is something which has developed overtime. It is the aspect of the conflict which affects Palestinians everyday.  Apartheid is a term which stirs strong emotions in the Western psyche; by exposing Israel as a perpetrator of this crime one has a much higher chance of changing public opinion towards the Zionist state. This has also allowed activists to structure their strategies in a similar fashion to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980’s. The apartheid policies of South Africa ended shortly after US withdrew its support for the regime. By forcing our governments to change their unequivocal support of Israel, we have the greatest chance of aiding an end to the conflict.

Israeli Apartheid Week is a unique (and proud!) Canadian contribution to the Palestinian solidarity movement. It started off in 2005 at the University of Toronto by a group of dedicated student activists. It was shortly followed by the BDS Call (Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions) made by 170 Palestinian civil societies. Through lectures, protests, concerts and film screenings, this week is dedicated to raising awareness about the atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people. It also focuses on measures that can be employed by average citizens to help end Israeli apartheid. The event is now organized on university campuses in over a 100 cities across the globe.

Success of the anti-apartheid movement for South Africa was rooted in educating the public about this inhumane system. Given the lack of knowledge about this issue amongst the masses and to emulate former movement, this series will seek to inform people about what apartheid is, why it applies to Israel and how we can help fight it.

Next Post: What is Apartheid?

Waleed Ahmed writes on current affairs and politics for MuslimMatters. He focuses on Muslim minorities, human rights and the Middle-Eastern conflict. Based out of Montreal, he's currently pursuing a Ph.D. at McGill University in fundamental physics. Waleed also has a keen interest in studying Arabic and French. He spends his spare time reading, playing basketball and praying for Jon Stewart to run in the next presidential election.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Avatar

    JPeditor

    March 30, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    a/ Muslims living in Israel have more freedom in Israel than IN ANY Arab “nation” on the planet.

    ESPECIALLY MUSLIM WOMEN.

    THERE IS NO APARTHEID IN ISRAEL.

    b/ 90% of muslims living in Israel have NO DESIRE to live under the rule of the so-called “palestinian” Authority.

    THERE IS NO APARTHEID IN ISRAEL.

    c/ The so-called “palestinian” Authority has already declared that NO JEWS WILL BE ALLOWED TO LIVE in so-called “palestine”.

    THERE IS THE APARTHEID, you intellectual midgets.

    Go ahead and delete, this, as you do not have the capacity, nor the facts nor the stones to argue it.

    So show us how cowardly you are, too afraid to let your big-time intellectual muslim and far left dhimmie audience read it.

    But everywhere you post the LIE OF ISRAELI APARTHEID,  the truth of the above FACTS will be plastered to make you the laughing stock of academia, and eventually of the Western world.

    THEN, you can go back live in YOUR apartheid cesspool.

    • Avatar

      Israelisaterroriststate

      March 30, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      I don’t find it surprising a jpost editor is spouting these retarded claims. Freedoms my ass. Go back to slaving for your Zionist masters you cretin. You know you’re lying and you are truly the scum of the earth.

    • Avatar

      Israelisaterroriststate

      March 30, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      By the way, do tell me where you got your sources(aka “false info”). It’s a shame you are no different than the holocaust perpetrators you cry about.

    • Avatar

      Shahriar Hussain

      March 31, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      Islam protects and free’s women infinitely more then your western standards ever will, so to say that Muslim women have no freedom in Islam is a big idiotic statement that would be said by someone who knows nothing about Islam.

      The tyrants who are in power in Muslim lands are hated by the general Muslim people, and they are tyrants who are backed by the West because they serve not the needs of Islam and Muslims, but the needs of Israel, the greatest transgressor of the world.

      Wake up and face the reality. Muslims haven’t occupied anybodies land nor transgressed against any people, nor have we oppressed anyone..
      Israel has, America has, Britain has.

      • Avatar

        Jp

        April 3, 2012 at 5:11 PM

        “hey are tyrants who are backed by the West because they serve not the needs of Islam and Muslims, but the needs of Israel, ”

        Mu-ha-ha-, more islamic paranoia….”my little pee-pee shrunk, its the JOOS fault.”

        1300 years, you invent NOTHING but envy. Just another example of why islam is “death” not 
        “peace”.

      • Avatar

        Lior

        September 19, 2012 at 12:54 AM

        So the Ottoman and Persian empires weren’t colonialist examples of Muslim faith?

    • Avatar

      Robbie

      December 7, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      To JP Editor

      I have to agree, your post is 100% accurate !!

      However, I would suggest trying to tone it down a little, because your views are valuable in these debates and we really don’t want you to be barred from posting.

      Many of these RADICAL EXTREMISTS just need to be educated.

      Greg Abdul, whether I agree totally with your views or not, I appreciate your interest in lasting peace within these lands.
      LIVE AND LET LIVE

  2. Pingback: On Land Day, Australians March in Solidarity with Palestinians « KADAITCHA

  3. Pingback: Israeli Apartheid is Worse Than Apartheid Practised by White South Africa « KADAITCHA

  4. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    April 1, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Yes Israel is an apartheid state. But that means the Palestinians are a part of Israel and they belong to Israel and they are being denied their birthright as Israeli citizens. And no Palestinian Arab will live with those facts. Arabs want to have it both ways. You hate Israel and say you want it abolished. Now you say they are a state who denies rights to its Arab citizens. You can’t be an oppressed minority without belonging to the state that you claim denies you full rights. Israel’s obligation is to its citizens. So if the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza want full Israeli citizenship, then you can holler apartheid and the world will be with you. If all you want is to drive the Jews into the sea,’ and this is another sorry cloaked argument, please save everyone time. Your drive the Jews into the sea nonsense has caused over 50 years of suffering. The Jews are going nowhere. If you want to live in peace with Jews and Muslims living with full rights in one state, the world will be with you. If you keep this Arab purity nonsense up, the Jews will soon completely own the West Bank and Gaza anyway. The only question is will there be Arabs there willing to live with Jews in peace or will Lukid drive all the Arabs into the sea? Please my Muslim brothers, end the nonsense. The Jews are going nowhere. So fix your political aims on living with the Jews, or prepare for the eventual mass migration of all Arabs from what used to be called Palestine. I think that’s a pretty simple choice. Please let us be a people of logic and reason and not stupid politics.

    • Avatar

      WaleedAhmed

      April 2, 2012 at 4:17 AM

      It’s a bit presumptuous and extreme for you to suggest Greg, that we are calling here for expulsion of the Jews from Israel. It is as absurd as saying the the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980’s wanted the expulsion of white’s from SA.

      Israel is an apartheid state because it implements apartheid policies on the Palestinians. The end to this system could come through a two-state or one state solution…the latter of which is unlikely.

      Muslims and Jews living in peace is nothing new; in fact that has been the historical norm. It will happen again God willing.

      I encourage your to read the remainder of the series before jumping to conclusions about what is being called here.

      • Avatar

        GregAbdul

        April 2, 2012 at 7:30 AM

        as salaam alaikum,

        It is not presumptuous. It’s old clearly articulated and spelled out political dogma. It is an Arab dream to see the end of the State of Israel. That is why many do not recognize Israel. The reason for the Western insistence of the two state solution is that many Palestinians have no desire to live in and share a country with Jewish people. Brother if we are all honest, this decades of debate takes only two seconds. There is ONE land. There are two peoples. Jews and Muslims living in peace has happened in the past. Today, in Israel, it is clearly not happening. This thing where we deny obvious realities works against oppressed Muslims. The Jews are not going anywhere. So if we want peace and prosperity for the Palestinians, the goal has to be full Israeli citizenship and not a separate state. Then your cries of apartheid are real. Right now the Palestinians are nothing more than Arab separatists, refusing to move off to Arab lands, in the hope that one day they can drive off the Jews. The hardliners on the Jewish side think exactly the same way. What my Muslim brothers and sisters need to realize is that the Jewish hardliners have the advantage, so if there is a real separation at this point, it is the Palestinians who will be left holding a bag of nothing. There is no second state to be had. So either the Arabs of the region have to move to Jordan and Egypt if they are really stuck so much on pure Arab blood, or they have to truly join modern integrationists and begin to demand Israeli citizenship. I will read your series brother. Al hamdulillah for Muslims Matters. But this is not a new issue. How many hundreds of thousands of Jews live in the West Bank? I am no Zionist. I know they take unfairly. The question is how to stop them. The answer does not lie in separatism. In South Africa, no one demanded the whites leave. So if you are going to copy the name of the freedom struggle of Africans, then see that they never sought to drive the whites away and even more importantly, set up reconciliation as a central goal of the new democratic state once apartheid was abolished. Are the Palestinians interested in a reconciliatory one-state-for-all existence in the Middle East? If not, it will be the Arabs who end up leaving. The choices here are old and simple and the problem is all the cloaked and fake language. May Allah guide us to be open and give us guidance.

        • Avatar

          N Iqbal

          May 22, 2013 at 4:51 AM

          Brother.

          When the crusaders occupied Jerusalem for 100 years there were Muslims like you who came out with various reasons why the occupation could not be reversed. Then Allah (SWT) blessed the Ummah with Salahudeen Ayubi (RH) who achieve what Muslims like you thought was impossible but Muslims of belief never doubted.

          Your belief in Allah is weak or you would never think the things you have said let alone propagate them in them writing.

          I suggest you do sincere taubah and learn what Allah (SWT) says on this matter and stop following your own desires. May Allah (SWT) guide you.

          The only Islamic solution for Palestine is for it to be liberated under the leadership of a sincere Khalif. The responsibility on our necks is to work for the re-establishment of the Khilafah based on the method of RasulAllah (SAW). Any other solution is a false solution which deserves humiliation in this life and severe accountability in the Hereafter.

      • Avatar

        Jp

        April 3, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        “It’s a bit presumptuous and extreme for you to suggest Greg, that we are calling here for expulsion of the Jews from Israel. ”

        Are you stupid or naive?

        WHH do you think arafats’ keffiyeh crease AND the PA maps are all about:

        “From the Jordan to the Sea, koranustine Will be Jew-Free!”

  5. Avatar

    concernedstudent

    April 23, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    Hi, I’m a rising academic trying to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have heard of claims, like the one on this site, that Israel is considered an Apartheid state. I don’t see how this is possible, as, after doing extensive research, I have discovered that Israel provides full equal rights to its Arab citizens. How could it be that an Apartheid nation would condone an Arab-Israeli Supreme Court judge to punish a Jewish Israeli PRESIDENT of Israel. Israel has indicated, as far as I’m concerned, that it is surely not an Apartheid country.

    On the contrary, I have heard the claim that in the West Bank, the Arabs there are not given equal rights; however, they are not citizens of the state of Israel. Many of these supposed refugees seek to undermine Israel in every respect, so how could Israel attempt to embrace them?

    I really do not understand these claims of Apartheid, but I would like to hear an enlightening perspective. Can someone please inform me further on this issue? Thanks.

    • Avatar

      WaleedAhmed

      April 27, 2012 at 1:42 AM

      Keep reading the series. You will be able to look past the propaganda that is being fed to us.

    • Avatar

      Robbie

      December 7, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      To Concerned Student

      You have obviously studied well !!!
      Your views are 100% accurate and we need your views to be heard on web sites like this.

      Please keep up the posts as many of the writers on this site(not all) only want the destruction of Israel and the Jews.

  6. Avatar

    Special K

    May 1, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Israel will be viewed historically as
    1. An oasis of democracy in a despotic desert.
    2. An island of modernity in a medieval sea.
    3. etc.

  7. Pingback: Why Israel is an Apartheid State | Introduction « BloomingPeaches – Sit. Think. Imagine

  8. Pingback: Israel and Apartheid | Part 1 - MuslimMatters.org

  9. Avatar

    Lior

    September 19, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    All this article states as proof is a UN report stating the recent settlements are unjustified and nothing about Israeli “apartheid.” Nice try guys….If Israel is truly apartheid, why have 63 Arab Israelis been elected in parliament? Why are Arab Israelis granted the same rights as any other Israeli???

  10. Pingback: Israel and Apartheid | Part 2 « BloomingPeaches – Sit. Think. Imagine

  11. Pingback: Israel and Apartheid | Part 2 - MuslimMatters.org

  12. Avatar

    Robbie

    January 2, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    Haha !!

    Sorry to laugh on your website, let me explain!!

    Over the last couple of months i have been reading the debates and opinions on MM, a lot of which has been based on the Israel/Gaza conflict,Apartheid Israel and who started the last round of trouble in Gaza.

    I have to say and this is not aimed at ALL readers/writers, I was flabbergasted at the attitude of some of your patrons, some of whom live in the western world.

    However my reason for laughing is quite simple:
    On every ANTI ISRAEL / JEWISH TOPIC, the right wing fanatical nutcases, have been silenced by writers posting accurate facts about each situation!!

    I mean if you read above from the intellectual who calls himself ISRAELITERRORISTSTATE, it is a delight to see these fools are being given accurate lessons and have no grounds to reply!!

    Keep up the good work guys, you know who you are

    LIVE AND LET LIVE

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#Culture

Prayers Beyond Borders Offers Hope to Separated Families

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border wall in tijuana

On the border of San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico, several families live their lives torn apart—they were born on the wrong side of a wall. Now, faith groups are joining together to give them hope through prayer. Since the Mexican-American War in 1848, the boundary that divided the two countries transformed from an imaginary line, to a monument, to a simple barb-wire fence where people on either side could meet, greet, hold hands, or exchange a warm smile, to a heavily monitored steel wall stretching across almost 15 miles between San Diego and Tijuana. 

In recent years, crime, drug trafficking, an influx of undocumented workers, and increasingly white nationalism created stricter immigration policies in the U.S., directly impacting those who live straddling both sides of the border. Included in these are families whose loved ones have been deported – parents, spouses, children, and other relatives – to Mexico, undocumented workers providing for their families, and relatives who have not made physical contact with each other in years, sometimes decades. They gather along the steel mesh barriers of the border wall at Friendship Park to touch each other’s fingertips and pray.

The documentary, “A Prayer Beyond Borders,” produced by CAIR California, MoveOn, and Beyond Borders Studios captured some of these emotive moments during a Sunday prayer service held by the Border Church in partnership with the Border Mosque. Christians and Muslims came together in solidarity at Friendship Park on September 30, 2019, and held a joint bilingual ceremony, led by Reverend John Fanestil, Pastor Guillermo Navarrete, Imam Taha Hassane, and Imam Wesley Lebrón.

Imam Lebrón, National Hispanic Outreach Coordinator for WhyIslam, witnessed the nightmare families separated at the border endure when he was invited to participate in this first meeting of the Border Church and Border Mosque. As a Puerto Rican, U.S. born citizen who never experienced the hardships of immigration, he was moved by what he witnessed. He said, 

“I entered Mexico and reached the border at Friendship Park and immediately noticed families speaking to each other through the tiny spaces of an enormous metal wall. They were not able to touch except for their fingers, which I later learned was the way they kissed each other.”

He described families discussing legal matters and children crying because they could not embrace a parent who traveled for days only to speak to them briefly behind the cold steel mesh partition. 

“Walls are meant to provide refuge and safety from the elements and they are not meant to prevent human beings from having a better life,” he explained, “As I stood behind that wall, I felt hopeless, angry, and had many other mixed emotions for our Mexican brethren who have been completely stripped of the opportunities many of us take for granted.” During the service he addressed the crowd gathered on the Mexican side of Friendship Park and recited the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer. It was the first time the call was heard in Friendship Park, but not the last. 

The Border Church and Border Mosque will continue to provide a joint service on the last Sunday of every month and are calling for a binational day of prayer on Sunday, October 27th. They will be joined by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and indigenous spiritual leaders to “Pray Beyond Borders.” The event will be filmed and possibly live-streamed to a global audience with the objective of raising awareness and requesting financial support to address issues related to family separation in the region. 

On October 7th CAIR California with MoveOn, Faith in Action, MPower Change, and a social media team and distribution partners released the film “A Prayer Beyond Borders,” With the digital launch of this film in English and Spanish they wish to reach millions of viewers in telling the story of the Border Church and the Border Mosque and bring more faith leaders and activists on board to protect families’ right to gather. Please join them at Pray Beyond Borders – A Binational Day of Prayer – Sunday, October 27th at Friendship Park. 

when the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles(Psalm 34:17 – NIV).

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah ]” (Qur’an 2:45)

Photo by Max Böhme on Unsplash

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#Current Affairs

Zahra Billoo Responds To The Women’s March Inc. Voting Her Off The New Board

Zahra Billoo

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Women's March Board

Earlier tonight, I was voted off the Women’s March, Inc. national board. This followed an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.

The past 48 hours have been a spiral of bad news and smear efforts. Part of the smear campaign is motivated by opponents of the Women’s March, because the organization has traditionally challenged the status quo of power and white supremacy in our country. However, much of the campaign is driven by people who oppose me and my work challenging the occupation of Palestine, our country’s perpetuation of unjust and endless wars, and law enforcement operations targeting the American Muslim community.

The Women’s March, Inc. is an organization I once held dear. I spoke at the first march, spoke at regional marches every year after, spoke at the convention, participated in national actions including the original Kavanaugh protests, and worked to mobilize Muslim women for their efforts.

During the past few years right-wingers, from the President’s son to the Anti-Defamation League and troll armies, have targeted the Women’s March, Inc. For so long, I’ve admired their resilience in speaking truth to power, in working together, and in never cowering. Over and over again, the co-founders of Women’s March, Inc. put their lives on the line, winning power for all women in all of our diversity. The Women’s March, Inc. that voted me off its board tonight is one that no longer demonstrates the strength that inspired millions of women across the country.

To see and experience its new leaders caving to right-wing pressure, and casting aside a woman of color, a Muslim woman, a long-time advocate within the organization, without the willingness to make any efforts to learn and grow, breaks my heart. This isn’t about a lost seat, there will be many seats. The Women’s March, Inc. has drawn a line in the sand, one that will exclude many with my lived experiences and critiques. It has effectively said, we will work on some women’s rights at the expense of others.

To be clear, anti-semitism is indeed a growing and dangerous problem in our country, as is anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, ableism, sexism, and so much more. I condemn any form of bigotry unequivocally, but I also refuse to be silent as allegations of bigotry are weaponized against the most marginalized people, those who find sanctuary and hope in the articulation of truth.

In looking at the tweets in question, I acknowledge that I wrote passionately. While I may have phrased some of my content differently today, I stand by my words. I told the truth as my community and I have lived it, through the FBI’s targeting of my community, as I supported families who have lost loved ones because of US military actions, and as I learned from the horrific experiences of Palestinian life.

In attempting to heal and build in an expedited manner within Women’s March, Inc., I offered to meet with stakeholders to address their concerns and to work with my sisters on the new board to learn, heal, and build together. These efforts were rejected. And in rejecting these efforts, the new Women’s March, Inc. demonstrated that they lack the courage to exhibit allyship in the face of fire.

I came to Women’s March, Inc. to work. My body of work has included leading a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization for over a decade, growing it now more than six-fold. In my tenure, I have led the team that forced Abercrombie to change its discriminatory employment policies, have been arrested advocating for DACA, partnered with Jewish organizations including Bend the Arc and Jewish Voice for Peace to fight to protect our communities, and was one of the first lawyers to sue the President.

It is not my first time being the target of a smear campaign. The Women’s March, Inc., more than any place, is where I would have expected us to be able to have courageous conversations and dive deep into relationship-building work.

I am happy to have as many conversations as it takes to listen and learn and heal, but I will no longer be able to do that through Women’s March, Inc. This action today demonstrates that this organization’s new leadership is unable to be an ally during challenging times.

My beliefs drive my work, and I am not seeking accolades or positions of power. These past few days have been the greatest test of that. My integrity, my truth, and my strength comes from God and a place of deep conviction. I will continue my work as a civil rights lawyer and a faith-based activist, speaking out against the occupation of Palestine and settler-colonialism everywhere, challenging Islamophobia and all forms of racism and bigotry in the United States, and building with my community and our allies in our quest to be our most authentic and liberated selves.

Onward, God willing.

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#Current Affairs

The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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